I’ve been converted. Campgrounds are going to be my new mode of accommodations in my travels across South America. Not only am I saving a bundle by pitching my borrowed Black Diamond Megamid each night at the local campground, I’m also embracing the most friendly hosts and guests I have encountered in all of my travels. Say goodbye five-dollar hotel rooms, gringo hostels, and couchsurfing….campgrounds are back in style.
Perhaps there’s a reason that commercial campgrounds have such a sour taste in my mouth. I have memories of overpriced KOA’s, getting chased out of the Green River Campground in Utah with Danny O’Brien, and an unsuccessful search for babes in a mega-campground on the Northern California coast with Josh Broder, only to come back to our tent to a half-bottle of whiskey and a headache from screaming moms. But here, as I gaze out the Ushuaia campground restaurant window to the midnight dusk view of the famed Beagle Channel below, I have a much different feeling. I’m sitting here in a rustic cabin, sipping from a carton of wine, for which they charged me a dollar-fifty. There’s a backpacker from Wales sipping a beer on my right, and just finishing dinner on my left there are three business folk from Buenos Aires stationed here on a ten-day holiday. This place has found the perfect balance between festive and tranquilo.
Getting here wasn’t a simple task. Last night I arrived in Ushuaia, exhausted after two overnight buses and a ferry across the Magellan Strait. I arrived to find every bed under $15 full so I followed signs three kilometers outside of town toward La Pista Andina Campground. Despite the late hour, I was greeted by a friendly host who gave me a midnight tour of the facilities. For five dollars, I had wi-fi, hot showers, my own tent site, and gregarious Argentine neighbors. While a good ways outside of the city center, I was welcomed with awesome views of Tierra del Fuego outside my tent door the next morning. Couple that with 5 peso wine and Bob Marley jamming at the campground cantina, and you’ve found paradise in the world’s most southern city.